Take a controversial approach that leads to a negative outcome and you’ve got yourself a full-on firestorm in the sports world. That’s what happened when the Detroit Tigers lost when their closer by committee approach “failed” just two games in to the 2013 season.
To listen to some Tigers fans you’d think the whole thing would have been avoided had the Tigers approached the season with a more traditional situation at closer. They say the blown save proves the folly of the approach and today’s signing of Jose Valverde is an admission of such.
They would be wrong.
In signing Valverde, all the Tigers have done is added another option. Valverde is being given a shot to prove his worth at Toledo with no promises he will eventually wear the Olde English D this season. That hardly sounds like a knee-jerk reaction based on yesterday’s blown save.
The Tigers chose not to heavily invest in a closer. And they still haven’t. Anyone wanting to point to today’s news as evidence the Tigers are desperate have to at least be willing to say that Valverde is equally as desperate.
A minor league contract with an early May op-out cost the Tigers nothing. At worst, Valverde proves he is no longer capable of contributing. At best, he turns out to be a low cost asset. I, like many Tigers fans, wasn’t itching for the Tigers to bring back Valverde but given this situation, what’s the downside?
The Tigers are now looking at four possible possible situations, the first three of which are perfectly acceptable outcomes.
1. Yesterday’s blown save was an aberration and “closer by committee” works just fine
2. The Tigers need to name a closer and Jose Valverde turns out to be fit for the job.
3. Bruce Rondon rights the ship quickly and is ready to become the Tigers closer.
4. The previous three options fail.
If we get to number four then, and only, then will the Tigers’ approach to their closer situation be considered a failure.
Teams deal with blown saves no matter how they go about defining their closer role. The Tigers only got to game two before having to feel the sting of a blown save. Of course, this year’s first blown save actually came a game later than it did a year ago.